Denmark announces new national measures and tighter rules for Copenhagen region

Denmark’s government has announced new national measures, along with restrictions and mass testing for young people in 17 municipalities in and around Copenhagen in an effort to curb increasing Covid-19 infections.

Denmark announces new national measures and tighter rules for Copenhagen region
Health minister Magnus Heunicke (2nd R) and health officials speak to press on Tuesday. Photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix

The measures were confirmed by health minister Magnus Heunicke at a press briefing on Tuesday afternoon and in a Ministry of Health statement.

The 17 municipalities are the central Copenhagen and Frederiksberg municipalities along with Albertslund, Ballerup, Brøndby, Dragør, Gentofte, Gladsaxe, Glostrup, Herlev, Hvidovre, Høje-Taastrup, Ishøj, Lyngby-Taarbæk, Rødovre, Tårnby and Vallensbæk.

The national measures are as follows:

  • Stores required to implement one-way system for customer traffic
  • National recommendations on floor space (per square metre) per customer to become compulsory, and signs must be placed in shops.

In the 17 Copenhagen municipalities:

  • All young people between the age of 17 and 25 asked to take a Covid-19 test
  • Christmas shoppers asked to enter stores on their own
  • Universities asked to conduct classes and exams online wherever possible
  • A limit of 10 people at sporting and club activities for children and youths up to the age of 21 years. Activities for vulnerable children are exempted
  • Children in primary education, and people in youth and adult education (grundskolen, ungdoms- og voksenuddannelser) must stay in class groups during lunch breaks
  • Students at youth and adult education must not be taught in groups which mix regular classes or year groups
  • The government encourages schools to cancel classes in subjects with high infection risk, such as sports or music
  • All workplaces asked to facilitate working from home wherever possible.

The restrictions take effect from December 7th and will stay in place until January 2nd 2021. National restrictions already in place remain effective, including those relating to face mask use, assembly limits and sales of alcohol.

The government’s advisory board, including health authorities, recommended the interventions based on relatively high infection rates in Denmark and particularly in the 17 municipalities in question, the ministry said in the statement.

“We are providing extra teams so that all the young people in these municipalities can get a test before Christmas,” Heunicke said at the briefing.

“That is as many as 200,000 tests in the municipalities. We will go out to places of education and do everything we can,” the minister added.

Heunicke said that infections were notably higher amongst the younger age group, with 26 percent of infections in Copenhagen occurring in young people.

“I know it’s a difficult time. You miss friends and parties. But it’s crucial that we stick together and hold on right now. Not least because there’s a vaccine just around the corner,” he said.


The minister stressed that the message to young people over testing was a request, not an order.

Efforts to mass-test young people in the Copenhagen region will begin on Wednesday in Ishøj and Brøndby before later being rolled out to the remaining municipalities around Copenhagen.

Søren Brostrøm, director of the Danish Health Authority, described the situation in the capital as a “greater Copenhagen epidemic”.

“When we look at the greater Copenhagen epidemic – as I call it – we see a concerning development we are not seeing in other regions,” he said.

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IN NUMBERS: Has the Omicron Covid-19 wave peaked in Denmark?

The number of new Covid-19 infections fell on Saturday for the second day in a row, following a three-day plateau at the start of last week. Has the omicron wave peaked?

IN NUMBERS: Has the Omicron Covid-19 wave peaked in Denmark?
Graffiti in the Copenhagen hippy enclave of Christiania complaining of Omicron's impact on Christmas. Photo: Philip Davali/Scanpix

How many cases, hospitalisations and deaths are there in Denmark? 

Denmark registered 12,588 new cases in the 24 hours leading up to 2pm on Saturday, down from the 18,261 registered on in the day leading up to Friday at 2pm, which was itself a decline from the record 28,283 cases recorded on Wednesday. 

The cases were identified by a total of 174,517 PCR tests, bringing the positive percentage to 7.21 percent, down from the sky high rates of close to 12 percent seen in the first few days of January. 

The number of cases over the past seven days is lower than the week before in almost every municipality in Denmark, with only Vallensbæk, Aarhus, Holseterbro, Skanderborg, Hjørring, Vordingborg,  Ringkøbing, Kolding, Assens, Horsens, Thisted, and Langeland reporting rises. 

Hospitalisations have also started to fall, with some 730 patients being treated for Covid-10 on Saturday, down from 755 on Friday. On Tuesday, 794 were being treated for Covid-19 in Danish hospitals, the highest number since the peak of the 2020-21 winter wave.

The only marker which has not yet started to fall is the number of deaths, which tends to trail infections and hospitalisations. 

In the 24 hours leading up to 2pm on Saturday, Denmark registered 28 deaths with Covid-19, the highest daily number recorded since 20 January 2021, when 29 people died with Covid-19 (although Denmark’s deadliest day was the 19 January 2021, when 39 people died). 

How does Denmark compare to other countries in Europe? 

Over the last seven days, Denmark has had the highest Covid-19 case rate of any country in Europe bar Ireland. The number of new infections in the country has climbed steadily since the start of December, apart from a brief fall over Christmas. 

So does this mean the omicron wave has peaked? 

Maybe, although experts are not sure. 

“Of course, you can hope for that, but I’m not sure that is the case,” said Christian Wejse, head of the Department for Infectious Diseases at Aarhus University Hospital. “I think it is too early to conclude that the epidemic has peaked.”

He said that patients with the Omicron variant were being discharged more rapidly on average than had been the case with those who had the more dangerous Delta variant. 

“Many admissions are relatively short-lived, thankfully. This is because many do not become that il, and are largely hospitalized because they are suffering with something else. And if they are stable and do not need oxygen, then they are quickly discharged again.” 

Denmark’s Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said during a visit to an event held by the Social Liberal party that the latest numbers made her even more optimistic about the coming month. 

“We have lower infection numbers and the number of hospitalisations is also plateauing,” she said. “I think we’re going to get through this winter pretty well, even if it will be a difficult time for a lot of people, and we are beginning to see the spring ahead of us, so I’m actually very optimistic.” 

She said that she had been encouraged by the fact that Omicron was a “visibly less dangerous variant if it is not allowed to explode.”